I have no wit, I have no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numbed too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
A lift mine eyes, but dimmed with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is like the falling leaf;
O Jesus, quicken me.
Happiness is silent, or speaks equivocally for friends,
Grief is explicit and her song never ends,
Happiness is like England, and will not state a case,
Grief, like Guilt, rushes in and talks apace.
Some things that fly there be --
Birds -- Hours -- the Bumblebee --
Of these no Elegy.
Some things that stay there be --
Grief -- Hills -- Eternity --
Nor this behooveth me.
There are that resting, rise.
Can I expound the skies?
How still the Riddle lies!
the way loss seeps
into neck hollows
and curls at temples
sits between front teeth
empty and waiting
for mourning to open
the way mourning stays
forever shadowing vision
shaping lives with memory
a drawer won't close
the only real is grief
forever counting the days
minutes missing without knowing
so that one day
you find yourself
missing that love
To give life you must take life,
and as our grief falls flat and hollow
upon the billion-blooded sea
I pass upon serious inward-breaking shoals rimmed
with white-legged, white-bellied rotting creatures
lengthily dead and rioting against surrounding scenes.
Dear child, I only did to you what the sparrow
did to you; I am old when it is fashionable to be
young; I cry when it is fashionable to laugh.
I hated you when it would have taken less courage
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
O WORLD! O Life! O Time!
On whose last steps I climb
Trembling at that where I had stood before;
When will return the glory of your prime?
No more¡ªoh never more! 5
Out of the day and night
A joy has taken flight:
Fresh spring and summer and winter hoar
Move my faint heart with grief but with delight
No more¡ªoh never more! 10
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Since first it was my fate to know thee!
- Have the slow years not brought to view
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Nor memory shaped old times anew,
Nor loving-kindness helped to show thee
How great my grief, my joys how few,
Since first it was my fate to know thee?
A E Housman
Twice a week the winter thorough
Here stood I to keep the goal:
Football then was fighting sorrow
For the young man's soul.
Now in Maytime to the wicket
Out I march with bat and pad:
See the son of grief at cricket
Trying to be glad.
Try I will; no harm in trying:
Wonder 'tis how little mirth
Keeps the bones of man from lying
On the bed of earth.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
From the French
SOME of the hurts you have cured
And the sharpest you still have survived
But what torments of grief you endured
From evils which never arrived!
Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain tops that freeze,
Bow themselves, when he did sing:
To his music plants and flowers
Ever sprung; as sun and showers
There had made a lasting spring.
Everything that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
Hung their heads, and then lay by.
In sweet music is such art,
Killing care and grief of heart
Fall asleep, or hearing, die.
The Sweets of Pillage, can be known
To no one but the Thief --
Compassion for Integrity
Is his divinest Grief --
I found him in the guard-room at the Base.
From the blind darkness I had heard his crying
And blundered in.
With puzzled, patient face
A sergeant watched him; it was no good trying
To stop it; for he howled and beat his chest.
And, all because his brother had gone west,
Raved at the bleeding war; his rampant grief
Moaned, shouted, sobbed, and choked, while he was kneeling
Half-naked on the floor.
In my belief
Such men have lost all patriotic feeling.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
O THAT 'twere possible
After long grief and pain
To find the arms of my true love
Round me once again!.
A shadow flits before me 5
Not thou but like to thee:
Ah Christ! that it were possible
For one short hour to see
The souls we loved that they might tell us
What and where they be! 10
Walter de la Mare
When the rose is faded,
Memory may still dwell on
Her beauty shadowed,
And the sweet smell gone.
That vanishing loveliness,
That burdening breath,
No bond of life hath then,
Nor grief of death.
'Tis the immortal thought
Whose passion still
Makes the changing
Oh, thus thy beauty,
Loveliest on earth to me,
Dark with no sorrow, shines
And burns, with thee.
Then call me traitor if you must,
Shout reason and default!
Say I betray a sacred trust
Aching beyond this vault.
I'll bear your censure as your praise,
For never shall the clan
Confine my singing to its ways
Beyond the ways of man.
No racial option narrows grief,
Pain is not patriot,
And sorrow plaits her dismal leaf
For all as lief as not.
With blind sheep groping every hill,
Searching an oriflamme,
How shall the shpherd heart then thrill
To only the darker lamb?
it was a pear
Why else the shape
of the womb,
or of the cello
Whose single song is grief
for the parent tree?
Why else the fruit itself
tawny and sweet
which your lover
lets go your pear-
to reach for?
William Henry Davies
when the body of a woman dissolves
within are the three feared faces
the man who dares to trace them comes
to grief - but nothing personal is meant
waves and particles transvest - vulva
breast and womb are sexless doors
beyond whose suck a sensual light
swings life round its little finger
In the end, I made myself
Known to your wife as
A god would, in her own house, in
Ithaca, a voice
Without a body: she
Paused in her weaving, her head turning
First to the right, then left
Though it was hopeless of course
To trace that sound to any
Objective source: I doubt
She will return to her loom
With what she knows now.
You see her again, tell her
This is how a god says goodbye:
If I am in her head forever
I am in your life forever.
Friedrich von Schiller
Seeking to find his home, Odysseus crosses each water;
Through Charybdis so dread; ay, and through Scylla's wild yells,
Through the alarms of the raging sea, the alarms of the land too,--
E'en to the kingdom of hell leads him his wandering course.
And at length, as he sleeps, to Ithaca's coast fate conducts him;
There he awakes, and, with grief, knows not his fatherland now.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Only mouths are we.
Who sings the distant heart
which safely exists in the center of all things?
His giant heartbeat is diverted in us
into little pulses.
And his giant grief
is, like his giant jubilation, far too
great for us.
And so we tear ourselves away
from him time after time, remaining only
But unexepectedly and secretly
the giant heartbeat enters our being,
so that we scream ----,
and are transformed in being and in countenance.
Louisa May Alcott
O lesson well and wisely taught
Stay with me to the last,
That all my life may better be
For the trial that is past.
O vanity, mislead no more!
Sleep, like passions, long!
Wake, happy heart, and dance again
To the music of my song!
O summer days, flit fast away,
And bring the blithesome hour
When we three wanderers shall meet
Safe in our household flower!
O dear mamma, lament no more!
Smile on us as we come,
Your grief has been our punishment,
Your love has led us home.
Why is this age worse than earlier ages?
In a stupor of grief and dread
have we not fingered the foulest wounds
and left them unhealed by our hands?
In the west the falling light still glows,
and the clustered housetops glitter in the sun,
but here Death is already chalking the doors with crosses,
and calling the ravens, and the ravens are flying in.
My tears are like the quiet drift
Of petals from some magic rose;
And all my grief flows from the rift
Of unremembered skies and snows.
I think, that if I touched the earth,
It would crumble;
It is so sad and beautiful,
So tremulously like a dream.
WAE worth thy power, thou cursed leaf!
Fell source o’ a’ my woe and grief!
For lack o’ thee I’ve lost my lass!
For lack o’ thee I scrimp my glass!
I see the children of affliction
Unaided, through thy curst restriction:
I’ve seen the oppressor’s cruel smile
Amid his hapless victim’s spoil;
And for thy potence vainly wished,
To crush the villain in the dust:
For lack o’ thee, I leave this much-lov’d shore,
Never, perhaps, to greet old Scotland more.